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Overview

Some of Florida's prettiest, most pristine beaches stretch across its Panhandle from south of capital Tallahassee to the Alabama border at Pensacola. Quartz sand, which washes down from the Appalachian Mountains, drifts in blindingly white dunes at the edge of emerald green waters. Miles of National Seashore and military bases protect from development. More than just a pretty face, this Gulf of Mexico coastline offers a range of diversity as long as it is. At Pensacola, America's first settlement was attempted and failed. Since then, its strategic harbor location has made it an essential military pawn from the days when Fort Pickens served ...

Some of Florida's prettiest, most pristine beaches stretch across its Panhandle from south of capital Tallahassee to the Alabama border at Pensacola. Quartz sand, which washes down from the Appalachian Mountains, drifts in blindingly white dunes at the edge of emerald green waters. Miles of National Seashore and military bases protect from development. More than just a pretty face, this Gulf of Mexico coastline offers a range of diversity as long as it is. At Pensacola, America's first settlement was attempted and failed. Since then, its strategic harbor location has made it an essential military pawn from the days when Fort Pickens served in the Civil War to today's naval base, which includes a naval air museum and home of the Blue Angels. Communities along coastal Highway 98 range from lively beach towns such as Fort Walton Beach to historic outposts such as Apalachicola and new planned communities such as Seaside. Panama City Beach, front and center, is known for its spring-break fracas and beach abandon. In the Panhandle's northern reaches, agricultural communities and great sweeps of parklands keep it Old Florida.

Chelle Walton
About the Expert

Chelle Walton is coauthor of Fodor's Florida and author of Fodor's Compass American Guides: Florida and The Sarasota, Sanibel Island & Naples Book: A Complete Guide.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Avoid spring break. Summer is family tourist season; winters are less hectic.